In the fifth of our series of blogs on the coming local elections in May, Cascade Business Director, Jonathan Simpson, takes a look at the key local politicians who will be standing down.

All Change?

With London elections taking place once every four years, it should be expected that there is a natural churn with elected councillors from all sides deciding to leave public life.  On the 5 May this year, we expect many of London’s Boroughs will lose a large number of their elected members – in some cases coming close to a quarter opting out.  In this blog we will take a look at some of the key councillors and some of the reasons why there is likely to be such a significant change.

It has already been announced that Councillor Claire Coghill will be standing down as a councillor from Waltham Forest.  As a former Leader of the Borough, she was considered a highflier in London’s political life and it was surprising to see her announce that she was stepping down.  Similarly, Councillor Jack Hopkins’ resignation was unexpected in Lambeth last year. Along with this, Peter John OBE will depart Southwark after standing down as Leader nearly two years ago.  All three political figures made a major contribution to London and their loss will be noticed.

Councillor Simon Miller, Waltham Forest’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Housing Development, announced that he will not be seeking re-election. His departure may be a reflection on the turbulent Labour politics in that Borough.

Elsewhere, longstanding Westminster City Councillor, Jonathan Glanz, who represents West End ward, has announced his intention not to seek a further term in office.

Luisa Porritt, the former Liberal Democrat candidate for the Mayor of London, will depart as Leader of her group in Camden. Councillor Malcolm Self, the Chair of Kingston’s Planning Committee, will also be leaving and will be widely missed as a Councillor with an encyclopedic knowledge of planning rules.

Candidate struggles

There will be many other names to add to this list as we move forward to a full list of candidates being announced at the start of April. Political parties in London have historically announced their prospective candidates from September the year before the elections, but there has been a major delay this year, with reports that they have been struggling to find people to stand in some areas.

Cascade has spoken to many local politicians on their personal decisions. For many it is a change in circumstance – they have decided to leave their Borough and move elsewhere. In some conversations, councillors have said that they feel they’ve made their contribution and it was time to let a new generation come forward.  Disappointingly some councillors have said that the stress of the role and public perception of all politicians has made the job less enjoyable. It would be sad if this is a trend nationally.

What will the impact be?

Our research would suggest that, in some councils, as many as 25% of existing councillors will be standing down, a much higher amount than in previous years.  The knock-on impact will be that all Boroughs Planning Committees will have a substantial change in members, each needing to learn the ropes and processes.

Does this mean that we will see a void of candidates across London? No, local government renews itself much as it has always done, however the extent of the change to councils will be substantive. A period of volatility will follow as new councillors learn the ropes and temper some of their less realistic expectations. This is to be expected every four years, however the greater than normally expected turnover may result in a longer period of adjustment.